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Dear Santa: It’s Been a Hard Year

“Because of Covid-19 this Christmas I won’t get presents because we are struggling with money,” wrote Ashley, 14, from California, who asked for a Sephora gift card and LED lights for her bedroom. “My parents don’t really have work.”

A single mother of four in Illinois, Glenda, wrote that her hours had been reduced because of the pandemic and that she was struggling. “I’m writing this letter in hopes of giving my children somewhat of a normal Christmas this year with your help,” she wrote.

The Postal Service program began in 1912 in response to the flood of letters addressed to Santa that the post office received each Christmas. The postmaster general at the time, Frank Hitchcock, authorized local postmasters to open the letters so that employees could read them and write back. In 1940, members of the public were invited to respond and send gifts, and since then, needy children, and sometimes parents, have jotted down their dreams on pieces of paper and sent them to the North Pole.

Before 2008, adults would get the name and address of the child whose wish list they chose to fulfill and mail the gifts directly to the child. But now, because of security concerns, each child’s name and address are blacked out. Adults send their packages to the post office, which then ships it to children.

Not all letters to Santa this year mentioned the coronavirus or contained wish lists. Some offered confessions, like a letter from Zoey in California (“I have not bin nice to my brother”).

Ellie from California wanted to know whether Santa attended church, while Emerson from Texas wanted to know how she could become an elf for the day. “Please answer,” she wrote.

Andy, a 5-year-old from California, asked Santa for a Nintendo Switch that he would share with his brother, but acknowledged it was pricey and said that it was OK if it did not work out.

“Thank you, Santa!” he wrote, signing off. “I wish Covid was over so we can hug.”

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